UW, Cal Poly SLO or UC Davis?

My son got into UW (engineering undeclared, with $5400 scholarship),Cal Poly (biomedical enginering), and UC Davis (biomedical engineering with $13125 scholarship). They are all about the same cost per year. He is from Hawaii and is looking for advice on pros and cons. He is leaning toward UW. He won’t miss the sunshine and doesn’t care to do outdoor activities. He rather go to the gym. lol

Do read these very carefully and see the placement data for BioEngg at UW.


As you are OOS for all 3, I would say if you are not dead set on BME major then UW might the best option. MatSci & ChemE will be the easy fallbacks. If BioMed is the only engineering major that will work then UCDavis.

I’m not sure about how well funded labs are and about undergrad research in CalPoly SLO compared to UCDavis as my S23 did not apply there. Maybe someone else has a better idea.

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Yes, he is OOS for all 3. He is not set on BME. Thanks for the advice!

Can’t speak for the rest, but the gym facilities are pretty sweet at Cal Poly. The teaching style will be different too. Classes are small and they use very few TAs. No big time sports like at UW though if that is important.

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Son got into Cal Poly (biomedical enginering), UW (engineering undeclared, with $5400 scholarship) and UC Davis (biomedical engineering with $13125 scholarship). They are all about the same cost per year. He is from Hawaii and is looking for advice on pros and cons. He is leaning toward UW. He won’t miss the sunshine and doesn’t care to do outdoor activities. He rather go to the gym. lol


I agree with Gumbymom’s advice in the Davis thread. This feels like a really good question to pose in its own thread under the right category related to college selection. You will get a broader segment of users to weigh in with their knowledge and experience.


They’re all good schools that roughly equal - he could throw a dart and pick one if you are looking at academics only. The key is personal fit - which campus does he feel most comfortable in terms of the dorms, the food, the city-setting, etc. Gotta go visit and then let him decide IMHO.


Has he visited all of them?

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Curious as why your son is leaning towards UW? My son’s two top are Cal Poly SLO and UW too though we are from California so SLO is much less expensive for us.

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Just UW. When we went to Cal, we only visited UC Irvine and UC San Diego.


I think he likes the feel of a bigger campus. Also, I think in Hawaii, more students would go to UW versus the other 2 schools. We also have relatives in the Seattle area.


Done! Thanks


Having relatives nearby could be a big plus. Cal Poly is special in some of the ways that Hawaii is special in that you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and beaches (cold ones!). Physically, it’s the second largest state campus in California next to Cal. I think the question for your son is does he want to be in a big city. If so, UW is it!


My older son is a UCD graduate (not Engineering) and niece an SLO graduate (not Engineering) but I can give you my thoughts about these 2 schools.

-Down to Earth, Outdoorsy, Happy Students
-Agricultural/rural location
-Small town vibe
-Neither is a Rah Rah school with big time sports
-Mixture of old and new dorms. 2 year guarantee on-campus housing for Engineering students at SLO. First come for 2nd year at UC Davis (most students move off campus).
-Both have great gym facilities
-ABET accredited BME programs
I would do a side by side comparison of each schools BME curriculum.

Changing majors within the College of Engineering is usually not an issue but something to research if he is not set on BME.

-SLO coastal and UCD inland rural
-SLO weather mild and UCD can be hot in the summer/cold rainy in the winter
-Direct flights from Hawaii to Sacramento. Does not appear that SLO has direct flights to Hawaii.
-Off campus housing more reasonable in Davis vs. SLO
-Larger class sizes at UCD for lower division courses but have discussion groups headed by TA’s with 20-30 students. Upper division courses at UCD are smaller.
-UCD large flat campus ideal for their biking culture. SLO’s land holding is large, but campus more compact and hilly.
-UCD was originally the farm unit for UC Berkeley. They offer a shuttle for students, faculty and staff between both campuses and some professors will teach on both campuses.
-Sacramento city access with 20 mins from UCD. SLO city access is at least 1 1/2 -2 hours away or more such as Santa Barbara and San Jose.
-SLO Undergraduate population around 22,000 while UCD is around 31,000
-UCD has a Medical School, Vet school and Law school all on or near campus

Again, the best way to make a decision is to visit. I know students that loved SLO and UCD and students that would very unhappy at either campus.


D23 got into the same schools (Plus UW Madison), and we are thinking how to compare as well. She’s more into environmental science/policy, and admitted into her major at all the schools (SLO is political science, the others are env. studies).

We are In-State for CA, but have savings/benefits that we can afford any of these schools. So, a financial benefit for Davis and SLO. My D23 is most focused on academic fit and prestige (I know, I know…lots of dinner table conversations), and I feel like Davis may have more variety/options than SLO – but similar to UW and UWisc.

Tough choices… hoping for 1 or 2 more acceptances that make the decision easier (instead of harder!)

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I know personally at UW getting classes can be a real struggle. A large majority of kids take closer to 5 years to graduate from UW then the other 2 schools. Cal Poly a lot of kids graduate at or under 4 years.

Cal Poly engineers are a sought after commodity in the work force in CA. Haven’t met a Cal Poly engineer major who didn’t graduate with a high 5 figure and most 6 figure job already lined up.

The Learn by Doing approach at Cal Poly versus most large university’s theory approaches is a benefit not to be overlooked. Have several technical recruiter friends and they all go after Cal Poly engineers more so then they any other school.


Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions! Appreciate it! Do you know if University of Washington’s bioengineering program is ABET accredited?

Yes, their program is accredited.


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Where is your data coming from?

I looked at IPEDS data (2021) and it seemed to suggest the opposite conclusion.

UW Seattle:
Graduation Rate Within 4 Years 70.5%
Graduation Rate Within 5 Years 82.5%
Graduation Rate Within 6 Years 83.8%

Cal Poly SLO:
Graduation Rate Within 4 Years 57.0%
Graduation Rate Within 5 Years 81.6%
Graduation Rate Within 6 Years 85.4%

UC Davis:
Graduation Rate Within 4 Years 61.9%
Graduation Rate Within 5 Years 83.8%
Graduation Rate Within 6 Years 86.9%

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